Friday, July 2, 2010

サマーウォーズ (Summer Wars)

Another great production from Madhouse, Summer Wars is an animated sci-fi film that features a hearty serving of comedy, heart-rending drama, heart-stopping action and heart-warming family values that would really keep you glued on your seat watching.

 Theatrical poster. Just by seeing this you can already tell, It's awesome. :)

The story is about a meek but gifted eleventh-grader math genius, Kenji Koiso who has been invited unexpectedly by one of the popular girls in his school, Natsuki to do a part-time job for her. Already having a part-time job at OZ, a super advanced online virtual reality world network, he was very unsure but later convinced by Natsuki's amorous advances. He went with Natsuki to their ancestral house in Ueda, Nagano Prefecture believing he'd only be helping preparations for the celebration of her great grandmother's 90th birthday. Little did he know and much to his surprise, his job was to act as Natsuki's fiancè. Before Kenji found out what he'd be doing, he has already been introduced to the whole Shinohara clan and the head of the clan, Natsuki's great grandmother, Sakae.

The virtual world of OZ
Kenji meets the Shinohara clan

One night, he received a mysterious text message with an extremely challenging mathematical problem. Having the pride of a math genius, he managed to solve the problem overnight. Much to his amazement, the following day, he found himself on TV announced as a terrorist who toyed with the virtual network of OZ plunging the real world which is connected to its network into chaos. Turns out the math challenge was to crack the code to OZ's systems and he sent the code to the wrong hands. They later found out the culprit was an advanced AI, Love Machine which is now wreaking havoc in OZ and Love Machine was created by the family's black sheep, Wabisuke, Grandma Sakae's adopted son, also Natsuki's uncle. It is now up to Kenji, Kazuma (Natsuki's cousin who happens to be the legendary fighter in OZ, King Kazma), Natsuki and the whole Shinohara clan to "fix the problem created by one of them" (Wabisuke) and save the world from total destruction.

I don't want to spoil this movie in particular because I think it is really worth the suspense watching. Some of these screenies might just spoil the fun though so proceed with caution.

 The funky terrorist AI, Love Machine

Being a fan of computer games, I just noticed the fad of Japanese games that the final boss would have two forms the latter of which is usually in gigantic proportions or takes a more 'celestial being' form, and at times will have a final form, which I think is only for cinematic purposes, and would take one hit from the "hero" to end it. Take Sephiroth and Kefka from the Final Fantasy series for example.

King Kazma kicks the crap out of Love Machine's Face

Love Machine's greater form after devouring King Kazma. The bunny ears just made it worse.><

Love Machine devours user's accounts and avatars to make itself more bigger and stronger to be able fulfill its programming which is "to gain more knowledge" or "to know" which is a common bane among AI. Their drive for self-development always lead to destruction.

After King Kazma's loss, Natsuki challenges LM to a game of Koi-Koi, Shinohara clan's fighting style. Stupid OZ guardians only decided to help when a chick went against the enemy.

Love Machine pwned by Natsuki

King Kazma lands the final retribution blow. One hit on the final form. :)

This awesome movie really made it to my list of best movies of all time. I'm not actually a huge fan of sci-fi but this one is just exceptional. Also, I got the HD version and I think watching it in theaters would be a total thrill. (the audio on Kazma and LM's fight was really blasting my headset). Just pure awesomeness, I tell you.

 Happy ending. Kenji Koiso, 16 years of age, on "chikan" heaven.(LOL)

Mansaku: You can't fight just because the battle is in your favor, or run because it isn't. In our clan we even fight through losing wars. Every single time.
Rika: What a stupid family!
Mariko: Yeah, and we're their descendants.
Naomi: I guess, I'm one of those idiots too eh?


Ju-osh said...

Nice review, Neon! I totally agree that it was Summer Wars' endearing exploration of the theme of family (blood relations, marriage relations, adopted children, friends as family, etc.) that resonated the most with me, and NOT the heavily advertised/blogged about sci-fi plot-line. That's not to say I didn't dig that side of the flick, or wasn't completely blow away by the way OZ was shown, just that none of that stuff managed to get as powerful an emotional reaction out of me as that small scene where Kenji and the entire Shinohara clan sit in sadness and silence on the porch.

Still, for those of your readers who DID prefer the online intrigue aspects of Summer Wars, you might want to check out Mamoru Hosoda's earlier flick, Digimon Adventure: Our War Game (2000). It's got a similar plot-line to Summer Wars, in that is deals with a computer virus hellbent on destroying the world and the small group that bands together to stop it. Also, many of the visual elements that Hosoda uses in Summer Wars (the bold use of white space in the online world, in particular) are given their first go-round there.

Hint: To watch Digimon Adventure: Our War Game without adding yet ANOTHER title to your Netflix cue, try YouTube. As Summer Wars points out, it's amazing what you can do with the internet!

Neon said...

Thanks! I believe that just goes to show that it caters to wide range of audiences. My older brother who's a computer geek dig sci-fi plotlines especially of this kind and my little bro digs the fight scenes, says its like the Megaman game for the DS) That's another awesome thing I look for in great movie titles. Where there's a complete mix of genres (e.g. in this one, comedy, sci-fi, drama, action) yet it all fit together perfectly to create a masterpiece.

oh yeah, THAT part? I swear i could've put it here (that was very surprising and was the trigger for everything else) but that would've been a MAJOR spoiler LOL.

thanks for the suggestion, I'd look for that title but to watch it right off the bat, that depends. I might need to watch the Digimon series (if they are prequels) so I won't miss anything on the story. do I? (i hate watching something, getting an "eh?" feeling, then finding out later on I missed a prequel. XD)

From The Idiot Box

From the screen to your lenses to your brain to your nerves to your heart, lungs and muscles and out. Its a compilation of my take, thoughts and impressions on straight up, good stuff (mostly japanese, anime, music and geek-related) from the idiot box that I like and you might like.

... and idiocy. :)

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